Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Backgrounds Part II (Acolyte and Charlatan)

Hey Game Fans, we’re back with the second part of our series on Backgrounds for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition.  Today we’re going to take a hard look at the Acolyte and the Charlatan Backgrounds and how they affect your character’s background and possible development as you level up.  First up, we have the Acolyte, and then we’ll conclude with the Charlatan.  


The gods and goddesses of Dungeons and Dragons are real forces that are active in the world.  They have churches and clergy everywhere, and some characters spend a great deal of their time before they begin adventuring in service or being raised by such a church.  This extends to characters of all types, even ones that don’t end feeling the call to serve the church as a cleric or a paladin (or a druid in certain circles).  
One of the most important considerations for selecting this background is to decide which God your character joined the church of.  Another important consideration is whether or not your character is still a member in good standing with said church or if they’ve broken with the organization.  There a host of interesting ideas and stories you can tell out of an acolyte background for characters of all races and classes.  Do some research in the campaign setting you’re playing in and develop your ideas from there.  


The Acolyte Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for Insight and Religion


The Acolyte Background gives you proficiency for two languages of your choice.  


The Acolyte Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
  • A Holy Symbol (from your church)
  • A prayer book or prayer wheel
  • 5 sticks of incense
  • Vestments
  • A set of common clothes
  • A belt pouch containing 15 gp (gold pieces)


Shelter of the Faithful

This does two key things.  First, the Acolyte can conduct religious ceremonies of his or her church and commands the respect of the Faithful.  This provides two key benefits.  When at a temple or shrine dedicated to his or her deity, the Acolyte (and his or her travelling companions) can expect spell casting assistance from the church, (they still have to pay for expensive components).  They are also willing to provide a place to sleep and the equivalent of a modest lifestyle for the Acolyte.  
Second, if the Acolyte is at their home church, (and are still a member in good standing of said church), the church or temple will provide additional resources and the assistance of other members of the faith (provided the request isn’t for anything dangerous).   

Suggested Characteristics

Look through the characteristics suggested on page 127 and see what aspects you like from the offered suggestions.  If you’re still looking for ideas, research the god your character is an Acolyte of and see what aspects of their religion you can work into your background.  Do you hold true to the tenets of your religion and try to spread joy and cheer as a worshipper of Lathander or are you at odds with your church like a pacifistic worshipper of Tempus?  You have taken the time to select a background where religion is a key aspect of your character’s past, so take a look at your character’s chosen god for guidance and inspiration.   


Some folks at a very early age realize that they have a knack with people and figure out that with the right words, the right looks and the right motivators, they could get people to do a lot of different things.  Charlatans got very very good at said age learning how to work the situation to their advantage, and even if they weren’t acknowledged as criminals, they were always in the middle of something.  
Charlatans have a knack for identifying the needs of a person and working that need into something that benefits the Charlatan.  Sometimes selling cure alls to the sick, real estate in distant lands to the recently wealthy, or claims to mining interests they have no stake in, Charlatans sometimes deliver on their promises, but more than likely they are outrunning angry dupes and marks in their wake.  


The Charlatan Background gives you the Skill Proficiencies for Deception and Sleight of Hand

Tool Proficiencies

The Charlatan Background gives you proficiency for the Disguise kit and the Forgery Kit.  


The Acolyte Background gives you the following pieces of equipment:
  • A Set of Fine Clothes
  • A Disguise Kit
  • Tools of the con/scheme of choice (more on this in a second)
  • A belt pouch containing 15 gp (gold pieces)

Scheme of Choice

Every Charlatan has a favored scheme or method of convincing people to give them money, things, or other such resources.  Some are peddlers selling fake cures, some  forge documents, others cheat at games of chance, some are masters of disguise who infiltrate the lives of potentially wealthy victims.   Whatever your scheme of choice, pick one of the random choices listed on the chart on page 128, or roll the dice.  However you come to this choice, you’ll get a tool to help you along pull your schemes in your equipment list.   


False Identity

Charlatans have a second identity complete with attached disguises, credentials and acquaintances to lend credibility to their integrity.  This gives the Charlatan a ready made way to ply their schemes and work their way through new victims/marks/targets.  Take some time and figure out who this false identity is and what they are.  The more complete this false identity, the more useful it will be to you in social situations.  
Second, Charlatans use their expertise to forge documents and other important things.  As long as the Charlatan has a real copy to work from, they can make fake versions that are capable of standing up to some level of scrutiny.  

Suggested Characteristics

Charlatan may seem like a background for a character of criminal or evil intent, but there are plenty of instances where good people have broken bad and had to hustle the streets to survive.  This is a background that essentially has two components.  The initial reason for turning to this life, and the primary method of your character making their way in the world.  Figuring out why your character had to turn to this life in the beginning can help inform a lot of other elements of your character’s background and help you figure out what their scheme of choice is.  Look through the offered traits and see what fits your character.  If you can’t find something that works, ask your DM and see if they have any ideas or suggestions.  


So that’s our first two background writeups in the bag, and we’ll be back next week with two more, The Criminal and the Entertainer.  We’ll hopefully get through all of these before Christmas, and we honestly hope these help you figure out some of the background components of your characters.  Game On, Game Fans.  

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